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The Widow Makers
by Jean Mead

Mead's novel The Widow Makers is inspiring reading; a classic tale, full of all the ingredients which make for the finest novels. Based in the mid-19th century, it tells the story of the young Standish family, who move from the coalfields of Lancashire to the slate quarries of North Wales. The eldest Standish boy is something of a changeling; he desires a different life and ruthlessly goes in pursuit of his dream of the grandeur and riches of the landowners' class.

Mead's exceptional talent as a raconteur lets us share the family's emotional rollercoaster ride, as they lose the eldest son, as he grasps the riches that are so important to him, regardless of the hurt and misery he causes his family and anyone who dares step in his way. Joe, his father, is a gentle giant of a man and through his eyes we see the beauty and majesty of the Welsh countryside, thus giving this book a greater substance.

My only criticism of The Widow Makers was that it ended too soon; I felt bereft! A sequel please. Review Welsh Books Council.
 

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